Twenty-one major airlines, including British Airways, Lufthansa and KLM, have pledged to Greenpeace that they will not carry whale products on their aircraft. All British airlines flying out of Oslo, Norway's principal airport have joined the air blockade. The blockade comes as Norway is preparing to resume sales of whale meat and blubber to Japan.

In an associated action, eleven Greenpeace activists from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Italy and Germany occupied today the building of one of the main Norwegian exporters of minke whale meat and blubber, and demanded that the company abandon its plan to export the several hundred tonnes of whale products it has stockpiled.

In January 2001, the Norwegian Government decided to ignore international agreements and announced it would allow the export of minke whale products despite the fact that minke whales are listed on Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and which bans international trade in this species[1].

"The extent to which Norway is prepared to ride roughshod over international agreements and public opinion worldwide is shocking", said Richard Page, Greenpeace whale campaigner. " History shows us that commercial whaling always leads to the devastation of whale populations. The resumption of international trade will only encourage " pirate" whaling and spell disaster for both abundant and endangered species of whales alike".

Norway's domestic market for whale meat is already saturated and there is no market at all for whale blubber. In Japan however there is still a demand for whale products to supply a luxury market. A kilo of high quality raw whale meat may fetch up to 800 US$ a kilogram [2].

The following airlines however would give no assurance to Greenpeace that they would not carry whale products: SAS (Sweden), Wideroe (Norway), Icelandair, Braathens (Norway), Coast Air (Norway). Greenpeace is now seeking assurances from further airlines and other carriers to strengthen the blockade.

"Any airline transporting whale products will be helping undermine a convention dedicated to the protection of endangered species and flying in the face of public opinion", added Page.

Richard Page, Greenpeace UK, tel. +44 207 865 82 42
Frode Pleym, Greenpeace Nordic, mob. + 47 95 80 49 50
Luisa Colasimone, Greenpeace Communication, mobile +31 6 21 29 69 20

Editors' Notes:

[1] The following airlines have assured Greenpeace that they will not carry whale products: Air Malta, Crossair Hauptsitz (Switzerland), Czech Airlines, British Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa (Germany), KLM (Dutch), Austrian Airlines, LOT (Poland), Swissair, Tyrolean Airways (Austrian), Air 2000 (British), Air Europa Lineas Aereas S.A. (Balearic Islands), Britainnia, Spanair, Sterling European (Denmark), Finnair, Iran Air, Air France, Sabena (Belgium), Maleu (Hungry), Onur Air (Turkey).

[2] see The Times, 14.9.2000

Norway is expected to attempt to weaken the moratorium on commercial whaling at the body which regulates whaling, the International Whaling Commission when it meets July 23 - 27 in London